Caring for a dying mother in a time of revolution

Sandra Ramses is headed to Egypt to care for her ailing mother. (Photograph by: Steve Bosch, PNG)

It feels really good to have substantial space for a story I care about. I felt this way with several stories I did on the devastating earthquake in Haiti last year, as well as with The Vancouver Sun‘s recent series on refugees in Vancouver, which I was lucky enough to be a part of. I felt this way again today (and yesterday), covering the local connections to the valiant uprising in Egypt. A recent realization: If I got to travel, this would be my dream job.

From Tuesday’s Vancouver Sun:


METRO VANCOUVER – As governments around the world rush to get their citizens out of Egypt, where the political protests are rapidly escalating, one North Vancouver woman is preparing to fly into the eye of the storm.

Her voice periodically quivers as she discusses her plans, her hopes and uncertainties about going to her family in Egypt.

It seems a combination of excitement and anxiety, of passion and worry, but even Sandra Ramses herself can’t pinpoint the feelings associated with going home to care for an ailing mother in a time of revolution.

“Maybe the reason you can’t really decipher my tone is because I personally can’t, because I don’t know which way this is going to go,” said Ramses, on a break from packing her belongings on Monday. “I am pretty excited. I’m concerned when I think of my mom, but I think that’s natural.”

Ramses, 24, was born in California and has gone back to Cairo, where her family lives, every two or three years. She came to Canada at 19 to attend McGill University in Montreal, then landed in North Vancouver about a year ago.

On her last trip to Egypt, over the Christmas break, Ramses learned her mother’s breast cancer had spread into her liver, bones, lungs and brain. Doctors told her she had four or five months to live.

“I came back here to pack my things and quit my job and make sure the legal stuff is under control and leave, and now all this happens,” said Ramses of the mass demonstrations since Jan. 25. “I thought it’d be best to leave [today] because I think the later the delay, the more uncertainty there is.”

Thousands of people, including hundreds of Canadians, crowded into the Cairo airport Monday trying to get a flight out before today’s protest, expected to be the biggest yet and cause further disruptions to air and rail transportation.

Ramses will board a London-bound flight at Vancouver International Airport tonight. She will likely stay overnight in London, as Cairo-bound flights and ground transportation will be affected by the 3 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew, she said.

Ramses said the uncertainty of having her family half a world away has her more worried about the prospect of staying in Vancouver than flying into Egypt, where the uprising has claimed more than 100 lives.

Continue reading here.

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